Data Mapping For Everyone
Nov 15, 2023Klaus Schulte
I’m just coming back from Vizit Berlin, a two-day-event organized from the Tableau community (thank you Sarah, Heidi, Annabelle & Tore) for the community. It was so great to reconnect with old friends and make new friends. I also had the pleasure to give a presentation on the first day, where I introduced two ways to decouple Tableau’s Data Mapping feature from the accelerator workbooks (the intended use case), and therefore allow everyone to use it.
What’s data mapping? I personally consider data mapping to be one of the least used features in the product at all. And when I asked people, who was actively using or who has ever used it, only few hands went up. Part of the reason is probably that the feature is designed to be used with Tableau’s accelerator dashboards, and remains invisible when working with the default product.
Replacing data sources has always been one of the not-so-fun-things to do in Tableau. Most of the time, something breaks and you can quickly end up in a big mess. To avoid this, I for my part use two different approaches:
When accelerators came up, Tableau needed something to support users in this process. The data mapping feature was introduced in version 2023.1 and uses my second approach (kind of), but wraps it together in a nice user interface.
That’s already a giant step forward!
If you have never used the feature, go and try it out:
I’ve immediately found it kind of annoying, that this feature is limited to accelerator workbooks only, because I think there is a need for this feature for other use cases as well:
That’s why I wanted to understand what’s going on here.
First I discovered, that I have a different menus for a data mapping enabled workbook than for the default workbooks, although being on the same product version.
At this part, I thought that it can only be in the workbook, and then first tried my quick-and-dirty approach: Deleting everything from a data enabled workbook, and then connect some other data.
That means, it had to be something in the XML of the workbook, and my good friend Merlijn Buit pointed me to the area in the XML that does the trick.
Here we go!
If you don’t want to change the XML your own, you can download a blank workbook that has data mapping enabled from my Tableau Public profile. (Note: it’s not officially recommended/supported from Tableau to hack the XML 😉😅)
Thanks for reading, do something nice with it!
Thanks Klaus, great write-up. Good to see you in Berlin this week!